As always, I like to remind the lovely folks who are reading this blog that first and foremost, I am a reader, then a writer. I read anywhere from one to three books a week, even when I'm writing. And considering the fact that I write only one to three books a year, I believe that means I have more clout as a reader than a writer. My opinion, of course. And ... I do understand that not everyone likes what I like. But that's okay. I never forget that. My posts are just my opinions. Also, since I also market books for a living, usually sharing one to six books daily, I read a lot of reviews. So, with that disclosure, onto today's discussion about reading and/or writing.
Today I want to talk about the unbelievable story and happily-ever-after comments in reviews.
One of my least favorite comments in a review is that the story was unbelievable. I guess when a reader says that, I'd just like a little more clarification. What was unbelievable? The fact that what happened, happened, or that the writer didn't make the characters seem believable?
I mean, really, if you think about it ... aren't all stories supposed to be unbelievable? Isn't that why they are stories in the first place? Even the "Based on True Events" stories. The reason those events are turned into a story is because the story is out of the norm, far-fetched, or shocking. I recently watched -- well, I was in the room as my hubby watched, as I NEVER would have watched the movie in a million years -- Pain & Gain. Halfway through the movie, and several times thereafter, the producers added a caption at the bottom of the screen: Yes, this is still a true story. Because it was so outlandish. I still have a hard time believing even half of it.
Heck, half of the stuff that was written thousands of years ago, is still read and studied in school: Greek Mythology, Homer's Iliad, for instance. No one questions a horse that flies or a half-man, half-goat. We know it's not real; it's called escapism. Especially back then when there wasn't much else to do but work and tell stories.
The fact of the matter is, whether we're reading a Tom Clancy thriller or a romance novel by Nora Roberts, the story is supposed to be a tad bit unbelievable, or it wouldn't be exciting to read. I'm not talking about easily searchable facts. Of course, the story -- even if it's paranormal -- should make sense. BUT ... if you think about it ... how many FBI agents are rogues. How many street blocks get shot up and wrecked during a high-speed car chase. Not many, believe it or not, because officers are instructed not to do high-speed chases in populated areas, unless it's a life-or-death situation. (Did I tell you I married a cop?) BUT ... you still see cars wrecking into buildings and the chase continuing in almost every book or movie. Because it's fun, exciting, unbelievable ... In real life, the police set up roadblocks and/or lay spike strips across the road, but that wouldn't be as tantalizing to read.
Same goes with dramas and romance novels. Believe me ... if I just wrote about my day-to-day life, I'd bore you to tears. BUT ... if I went back a few years, I could start a story right in the middle of the action of some sensational or horrific event in my life. And yes, you would probably say, “What are the chances that happened?” But that's what makes a good story. Or, I can take an average event, and add some crazy twist. The point is, if nothing unusual happens, it's not really a story. Heck, it's barely a journal. Other than a few scribbles, we rarely write about a boring day in our diary. No, we wait until something exciting happens.
The other issue in reviews is the Happily Ever After, which we readers and writers commonly refer to as HEA. I see a lot of people who say ... “Meh! It all worked out!”
Well, again, how many of us want to read a story where everyone dies at the end, or you just plain want to cry your eyes out. Sometimes it's okay ... if there's meaning behind it. Like the book/movie Pay It Forward. I had a love/hate relationship with that ending, but at least there was hope. (No spoilers! Another thing I loathe in reviews. It simply isn't fair to other readers)
As for books by Nicholas Sparks, I now question if the book has an HEA. I know that sounds lame, but I don't want a book where there's no hope at the end. I don't mind a few tears, but I want a smile at the end.
Anyway, most of us readers want a Story and an HEA (My opinion, of course, based on everything I see). We read for enjoyment, we read for escape, we read so that we can have hope. If you don't want everything to be all sunshine and roses, please let me suggest A Game of Thrones. Beautiful, poetic writing, BUT ... I don't think I'd be giving a spoiler if I told you to prepare for death. It's what George R.R. Martin is known for, I believe.
So next time you read a book, and it sounds unbelievable, remember, that's what authors are supposed to do: Tell a Story!
What say you? What do you like to read or NOT read in a book review? Feel free to start a conversation here or at any of my social media homes. I love talking about all things BOOKS!
Until next time, happy reading and writing, my friends!
Thank you for stopping by my place and reading my musings. Remember, these are just my opinions and shouldn't be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I promise you I will answer. I love talking about all things books, so if you want more posts on writing, marketing, new releases, and giveaways, please leave your email address here. I only send out a post a few times a month, at the most. :)
Want to try to figure out what's real or make believe in my stories? Visit my Amazon page, where you can download a few of the "firsts" in my collections, free! I'll warn you, though, the parts that most people don't believe are usually the true parts. Again, a sensational event is usually what makes me write a story in the first place.
Image credit: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo
6/6/2016 10:55:04 am
Well said, my friend! There's a reason it's called fiction; it's not real. I hate reading reviews where the reviewer states: not believable or too short. Let's hear some facts about the merits of the story. Was it well crafted, formatted and edited? Were the characters developed and engaging? Did you like or dislike the characters and why? Did it make you smile, laugh or cry? Was it entertaining? I could go on and on! And the thing I hate most is when the reviewer says: I hated this book. I only got past the first few chapters. I had to stop reading. But why? Why was it so bad they stopped reading? Good lord, give me some details! I don't need a book report or synopsis, just basic information about the book like was there danger, suspense, action, love, heartbreak, passion or sex. Was there adult language or explicit sex? Did it have a cliffhanger or happy ending? Is it a full length standalone, novella or continuing serial? Let's be informative people! I'll step down off my soapbox now.
6/6/2016 11:04:44 am
Exactly, Judy! I think you said all that needs to be said ... and with a lot less words than I used. LOL!
6/6/2016 11:14:09 am
You're very welcome. I guess it fairly obvious that I'm passionate about reading! lol.....And FYI, I'm a huge fan of your work! Love it!
6/6/2016 08:21:35 pm
Oh, Carmen. You and Judy Lewis nailed it. I get it that reviews are for the reader. Very often, I see a review that says, I want more, the story was too short. I write long, slow-moving character-driven romance novels. That's what I do and I ain't apologizing for it. I like a story that ends HEA and is full of hope and if not a romance, a just denouement. There comes a point when the story has to stop. If the reader wants more, that speaks to the investment the reader made in the characters. I've done my job. When I come across book I nt more of, I reread them time and time again. Would i like to do sequels of some of my books? No. But I might interview a beloved character to do an after book wrap. That sounds like fun.
6/6/2016 09:25:42 pm
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jackie!
6/27/2017 03:41:18 am
Thank you Carmen, for voicing exactly what I'm always talking to my loved ones about. I'm so happy I stumbled across one of your series. I had just about given up hope of finding books with a HEA, after reading a succession of books that seemed to be going good and then suddenly shoved me into a very non-HEA and stranded me with a dismal feeling. It was very depressing, because well, let's face it, life is depressing as is; and at least for myself, I read to escape reality into a fabulous, romantic, non-realistic land, that's guaranteed to leave me with hope and a smile on my face. So thank you again, I love the feeling your books have left me with and they are all definitely going home into a prized position on my bookshelf.
6/27/2017 08:51:02 am
Ahhh... You're welcome, Azzy! I'm so glad you're enjoying them. I don't mind sad, of course! But dangggg...give me hope! It happened to me a few weeks ago, and I was so angry I nearly threw my Kindle across the room. If the book had been a paperback, I would have! Evidently, I need to look up disclosures on young-adult books now. Again, I don't mind sad, but...in my opinion, the writer tried to romanticize suicide. It made me so sick! I just really can't understand why someone would want to read that. Yes, I understand abuse...and suicide...and addiction, and yes, I use them, but I prefer to write on the aftermath, what it does, and the way out.
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